Any smart restaurateur knows a happy chef and kitchen crew means a productive kitchen and an improved bottom line. Most chefs pride themselves on their ability to prep, cook and plate meal after meal in small work areas. But at the top of every chef’s dream list is more space. What can you do? You can create the sense of more space and productivity without a major overhaul or build-out.
The National Restaurant Association has the answer – maximize and reorganize your kitchen. Experts will tell you that maximizing your kitchen space starts with improving flow of people and product. You also need to pay attention to staging areas, storage and training.
- Flow follows function
Mapping work flow begins whne your supplies hit the door. Blueprint the flow of your meals from delivery truck drop-off to table service. The next steps include prepping, hot or cold production and plating. The goal is one, straight ahead process. This will save your staff time and hassle, and you, money.
The same smooth process applies applies to people. Identify defined traffic aisles versus work aisles. Front of the house staff need to pick up their orders without blocking or interrupting what’s going on in the kitchen.
We recently worked with a pizza restaurant kitchen where we mapped out the travel path of staff and menu items,” Bendas says. “By reorganizing the kitchen to make items more directly accessible to usage points and changing some of the flow patterns, we were able to reduce steps taken by about 50 percent.”
- Think vertical and movable
Use vertical storage, movable shelves and wheels to optimize storage areas and save steps.
Store flat items such as cutting boards, sheet pans or trays vertically underneath or near work areas.
Wall-mounted storage systems will make your prep area more efficient.
Sturdy wire grids designed for hooks, bins, spice racks, drying racks can be tailored to your kitchen’s needs.
Movable racks allows racks to glide back and forth, increasing storage capacity.
- Staging areas Pay special attention to the cooking and plating lines. A correct design for your kitchen is critical. Mock up the proposed layout and review it with staff to get get feedback, suggestions, and buy-in.
- Training In the end, nothing is more important than teaching your staff, and providing leadership and mentoring as a part of this or any process.
You can set up the greatest work space in the world, but if you haven’t taught cooks to work efficiently…you will still fall behind,” Bendas says.
Get a closer look at the recommendations in the full Nation’s Restaurant News article here.